User login

Garden Poles

Source Institutions

    The Exploratorium

Add to listGo to activity
Garden Poles

In this activity, learners build large-scale structures and cantilevers in a series of "building out" challenges with garden poles and tape. In doing so, learners will experience many of the basic physics and engineering concepts inherent in structures as well as explore the concepts of torque and center-of-mass. This resource guide contains background information, discussion questions and extensions. This is a good activity to do near the end of a unit on structure and scale, and should be preceded by an activity about building on a smaller scale like "Straws and Pins" (see related resource). Learners will need a lot of space for construction and collapse, so a playground or cafeteria is recommended for both building and storing the materials.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
2 to 4 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model

English, Italian

Materials List (per group of students)

  • 35 4-foot bamboo garden stakes
  • One roll of 3/4-inch masking tape
  • 3-6 feet of duct tape
  • Matte knives or scissors
  • 25 weights (e.g. large washers or film canisters filled with sand) (optional)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Architectural Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
    • Technology
      • Construction
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
      • Center of Gravity
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection:

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All Rights Reserved, The Exploratorium, ©2000

Funding Source:

  • Unisys